The industry wants regulations streamlined to crack down on Hong Kong's growing ranks of untrained guards More than half of the estimated 200,000 security guards working in Hong Kong are not properly trained or regulated, say key figures in the industry. Amid a widening police probe into the security industry, business leaders called for the same rules to be applied to all guards, saying that some escape regulation. The Hong Kong Security Association (HKSA), which represents 108 out of 197 licensed security companies, has welcomed the inquiry, which is aimed at developing a new framework to cover basic security guard training in the city and ensuring a minimum 16-hour accredited training course. But the HKSA is at loggerheads with the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority (SGSIA), headed by legislator Miriam Lau Kin-yee, over the time and expense taken to process the permits, saying it needed to be radically streamlined. HKSA chairman Ted Devereux said more than half of the 200,000 people with security guard permits in Hong Kong were not working for licensed security companies. The industry was being exposed to 'a few bad apples' and potentially corrupt practices because of the hurdles to proper employment, he said. According to police figures, there are 866 companies involved in the industry - but just one-third are regulated by licensing requirements. The ongoing police probe was launched on April 3. Mr Devereux said the problem was compounded by the delays in approving a work permit and certificate of employment, which sometimes takes more than three weeks. 'Our key issue is making sure our members can get people into work without erecting barriers to getting them into the job,' he said. He said a minimum 16-hour training standard was a welcome move but criticised the time taken to get guards trained and accredited. 'Many of the people who come to the security industry looking for jobs do not have sufficient funds or resources to sustain them if they have to wait in limbo for three weeks,' he said. 'We simply want to see the whole industry subject to the same standards.' SGSIA chairwoman Miriam Lau was unavailable for comment last night. As of April 1 this year, training was handed over to the Vocational Training Council, which is running a pilot scheme for developing a qualifications framework for the security industry. Other than the council trade test for basic guarding, the security industry in Hong Kong does not have any system for accrediting security standards of personnel, services and products. Hong Kong does not have licensing categories for corporate security, private investigation and security consultants. The excluded categories only take up about 5 per cent of the total number of employees in the industry but they involve key advisers in deployment of resources and manpower of security operations. The basic guarding training course - which currently runs for 12 hours but will soon be expanded to 16 hours - is the only locally-developed curriculum for the industry but has the shortfall of putting a higher emphasis on security for the property industry. Several universities in Hong Kong offer programmes for security studies in certificate, diploma and degree levels. However, they mostly cater for people from the disciplined forces rather than private security. This compares with the many programmes on offer for security studies at graduate and postgraduate levels in Britain, the US and Australia.